I love this soup! You can make it as healthy as you want or as bad (for you) as you want! :) You can add extra vegetables. You can enjoy the soup mixture alone. You can add noodles. You can add cheese topping mixture. You can add croutons. The options are endless but one this remains the same, THIS SOUP IS GOOD!!!!
for the soup:
2 tsp. olive oil
1-1/2 lbs. Hamburger (sausage would work too)
3 c. chopped onions
1 bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 can tomato paste
1 28-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes (I used one smaller can and a can of finely diced tomatoes)
2 bay leaves
6 c. chicken stock
1 can tomato sauce
8 oz. mafalda or fusilli pasta
1/2 c. finely chopped fresh basil leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
for the cheesy yum:
1 - 2 cups cottage cheese
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage, breaking up into bite sized pieces, and brown for about 5 minutes. Add onions and green peppers and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.
Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, tomato sauce and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and cook until al dente. Do not over cook or let soup simmer for a long period of time at this point, as the pasta will get mushy. Stir in basil and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheesy yum. In a small bowl, combine the cottage cheese, Parmesan, mozzarella, salt, and pepper.
To serve, place a dollop of the cheesy yum in each soup bowl, sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top and ladle the hot soup over the cheese. You can also top with croutons to add a little crunch!
Like I said --- This can be made healthy with leaving out the cheese and croutons and selecting the right pasta noodle. I have enjoyed it both ways!!!!
By the way --- this freezes great!!!